Which waterproof e-reader is the best for your needs? (comparison)

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A comparison of waterproof e-readers: Kindle Oasis 2 vs. Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2 vs. Nook GlowLight Plus

We’ve compared waterproof e-readers from Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble to let you realize water resistance is not the only feature to analyze.

With introduction of the 2nd-generation Kindle Oasis, all major players in the ebook business offer now waterproof e-readers.

If you are considering buying a device that resists water, take a look at the comparison table below.

We’ve put together major tech specs of Kindle Oasis (2017), Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2 (2017), Kobo Aura One (2016), and Nook GlowLight Plus (2015). Prices range from $130 to $250 for entry-level versions.

Obviously, such a comparison makes sense only if you are not tied to one specific ebook platform, or consider switching (being fully aware of all the problems it could create).

Water resistance

Three e-readers meet IPX8 rating, Nook GlowLight Plus has IP67. First, let’s explain what these numbers mean.

  • IPX8 – the device can withstand immersion in 2 meters of fresh water for up to 60 minutes,
  • IP67 – the device can withstand immersion in 1 meter of fresh water for up to 30 minutes.

In short, no matter which device you pick up, you can put it in the bathtub and leave it there for half an hour without causing a damage.

Now, let’s find typical situations water resistance is necessary:

  • you go back from the beach and want to remove sand by pouring tap water on the e-reader – IP67 is more than enough,
  • you accidentally drop the e-reader while reading a book in a bathtub – IP67 is more than enough unless you want to intentionally test the water resistance by yourself and leave the e-reader for 30/60 minutes,
  • you read the ebook outside, while the rain starts falling – IP67 is more than enough.

As you see, all the e-readers in the comparison will meet expectations of the majority of users. You can pick up the cheapest device (Nook GlowLight Plus), and stop reading the rest of the post.

The thing is, water resistance is for users who want their e-readers do more than just let read ebooks without the need to recharge too often.

Sure, for some users, ability to withstand water is the entry point. They don’t consider buying the device that is not waterproof, just like they don’t consider buying the tablet with no microSD card slot.

But, wait, what about the screen? Do you want the front light? How much memory would satisfy you? Ability to play sound?

We’ll analyze these features below the table.

Waterproof e-readers 2017 – comparison

Feature Kindle Oasis 2 Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2 Kobo Aura One Nook GlowLight Plus
Screen size 7 inches 6.8 inches 7.8 inches 6 inches
Pixel density 300 ppi 265 ppi 300 ppi 300 ppi
Screen resolution 1680 × 1264 px 1430 × 1080 px 1872 × 1404 px 1430 × 1080 px
Grayscale 16-level 16-level 16-level 16-level
Waterproof rating IPX8 IPX8 IPX8 IP67
Front light Yes Yes Yes Yes
Blue light control No Yes Yes No
Touchscreen Yes Yes Yes Yes
Weight 6.8 oz
194 g
7.3 oz
207 g
8.1 oz
230 g
6.9 oz
195 g
Size (inches) 6.3 × 5.6 × 0.33 5.1 × 6.77 × 0.35 7.7 × 5.5 × 0.27 4.7 × 6.4 × 0.34
Size (millimeters) 159 × 141 × 8.3 129 × 172 × 8.8 195 × 139 × 6.9 120 × 163 × 8.6
Storage 8 GB
32 GB
8 GB 8 GB 4 GB
micro SD card No No No No
Colors Aluminum Black Black Gold
Speakers No No No No
Bluetooth Yes No No No
Release date October 31, 2017 May 2, 2017 September 6, 2016 October 21, 2015
Price $249.99 $179.99 $229.99 $129.99

Display

When it comes to pixel density, all e-readers have at least 265 ppi (pixels per inch). The text rendered on the screen should be clear and crisp, what results in a more enjoyable reading experience.

The most important thing to decide is the size of the screen. Each of the offered waterproof e-readers has a different one. Let’s list them from the smallest to largest:

  • 6-inch – Nook GlowLight Plus,
  • 6.8-inch – Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2,
  • 7-inch – Kindle Oasis 2,
  • 7.8-inch – Kobo Aura One.

Since 2007, when the first-generation Kindle was launched, almost all e-readers had 6-inch displays. Why, suddenly, the screen size is so important?

The larger screen means you can see more text in a single page. Amazon claims the 7-inch Kindle Oasis 2 fits 30% more text than the 6-inch Kindle. As a result, you have to turn pages less often.

The bigger screen is better for displaying books with images, or digital versions of newspapers. Finally, on the bigger screen, you can make the font size much bigger without causing the formatting disaster.

Ask yourself what kind of books you read most often. If it’s novels, you should be satisfied with the 6-inch ebook reader. If you, however, mostly read non-fiction or academic books, with lots of tables, charts, or pictures, the bigger the screen the better.

If you are looking for the e-reader to read not only ebooks, but also graphic novels, newspapers, or magazines, maybe the device you need more is a tablet rather than e-reader.

The last set of features that relate to screen is how the device handles reading in the dark. When it comes to front light, all analyzed e-readers have it.

The front light lets read books in the dark (for instance, in bed, when your significant other wants to sleep and you have to turn off the bed lamp).

What Kobo devices offer – and the ones from Amazon and Barnes & Noble don’t – is a blue light control. Called ComfortLight Pro, it is a feature similar to Night Shift in the iPhone and iPad.

In the evening, ComfortLight Pro reduces exposure of blue light from LED lights located around the screen. Thanks to that, the display gets warmer, so that you can read in the evening and during the night without affecting your sleep.

Audio

Listening to audiobooks is something you can easily do with your smartphone or tablet, but it’s a rare thing when it comes to e-readers.

Kindle Oasis 2 is Amazon’s first e-reader since the 2011 Kindle Touch which is capable of playing audio files for you. To be more specific, the 2017 Oasis supports Audible audiobooks and does just that. You can’t play your own music on it.

What’s more, the e-reader does not have built-in speakers. It includes a Bluetooth module instead so that you can connect it to external speakers or headphones.

Audiobooks are on the rise. Amazon offers a clever feature called Whispersync for Voice that lets users seamlessly switch between reading a Kindle book and listening to an accompanying Audible audiobook.

No other e-reader in this overview is capable of playing audiobooks.

Storage

Hunting for bigger storage options makes sense in smartphones or tablets. You want to pack them with games, apps, and videos. Compared to them, ebooks take much less space.

Having in mind that any of the presented e-readers is connected with an ebook platform that lets store and sync your personal ebook library via the cloud, downloading all ebooks to your e-reader is not needed.

4 GB of the internal storage (having in mind that some of the space is being occupied by system files) is enough to store thousands of ebooks. Enough to store books you will read in the next few years – or, in other words – until you replace the current device with the newer one.

When you look at the waterproof e-readers in the table above, you’ll quickly spot that Kindle Oasis 2 is the model with the biggest memory. It offers either 8 or 32 GB of internal space.

Haven’t I said that 4 GB is more than enough to store thousands of ebooks? It’s still true. The bigger memory on Kindle Oasis is not for your ebooks. It’s for your audiobooks. The 8 GB version can hold only 30 to 40 audiobook files. The 32 GB – around 160.

• • •

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